Kuwait Approves Plan to Sell Stake in Telecom Firm
Kuwait’s government and parliament reached on Monday an agreement to go ahead with the sell-off of half of the government’s stake in the blue-chip Mobile Telecommunications Company (MTC), reported the Gulf Daily.
The public subscription of the 113-million shares was halted at the beginning of April following pressure from the 50-seat legislature.
Many lawmakers feared the coffers would lose a good source of income, and the sale would place the stocks in the hands of a wealthy few, said the paper.
No new date has been set for the offering yet, the paper added.
In a show of hands, the parliament approved a compromise plan for the sell-off devised by its financial panel in co-operation with government officials.
The plan, which was accepted by the government, calls for giving priority to subscribers who want to buy between 250 and 1,000 shares in order to guarantee small investors a good share of the stocks.
“MTC has one million subscribers. We are afraid of monopolies by a handful,” legislator Jamal Al Omar said before the vote.
Finance Minister Yousef Al Ibrahim said such fears were unfounded and the company’s shares were available on the Kuwait Stock Exchange, the paper quoted him as saying.
The government also agreed to extend the period of the public subscription for up to four weeks, and to advertise it extensively.
The sell-off is part of a privatization plan meant to revitalize the economy that is largely dependent on oil revenues and government spending.
The government, through its Kuwait Investment Authority, owns around 49 percent of MTC, which is the largest and oldest of two cellular phone service providers in the country – Albawaba.com